Govt opens registration to access matric results online

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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has urged matric learners to register on its website to view their results when they come out on 21 January.

Previously, scores of matric learners would find out their examination results on various public media platforms, most notably newspapers.

However, last week the DBE announced it would ceaseto publish matric exam results on any media public platforms, in order to comply with the prescripts of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), a decision that’s received mixed reaction from the public.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the department urged learners that wrote the 2021 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams to register online to access their examination results.

It states: “Candidates will have to go through a two-step verification process before receiving confirmation of their registration. A 13-digit ID number and the examination number will be required for registration.

“The DBE website is zero-rated, which means it can be accessed whether you have data or not.”

It noted that registration is now open.

According to the department charged with SA’s basic education, more than 10 000 people had successfully registered on the site by lunch time on Sunday (16 January).

In the statement, the DBE also reveals it’s received representations from a vast array of organisations and individuals following the decision to stop the practice of publishing the NSC examination results. In addition, there is an urgent court application on the matter, it states.

Eyewitness News reports that lobby group AfriForum, Maroela Media and Anlé Spies, a 2021 matriculant, brought the court application on the matter.

Furthermore, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has decried the department’s decision, saying it’s not only unfortunate, but also came as a surprise, as there was no prior warning or consultation with media houses.

SANEF goes on to say the decision has negative financial implications for media companies – which had already, for instance, procured additional printing paper and created the architecture for data sets to be able to publish the results in print and digital form.

The DBE explains: “In handling the matter, the department is guided by the need to comply with all the legal obligations, but in the final analysis, the Constitution commands the DBE to act in the best interest of the learner.

“In a quest to strike this delicate balance of complying with POPIA and act in the best interest of the learner, the department has been engaged with a number of role players, including the Information Regulator and SANEF.

“In view of the latest developments with regards to the release of the 2021 matric results and the impending litigation, the department has decided it will abide by the decision of the court. The department has communicated its position to stakeholders it has engaged, including SANEF and other parties.”

Following news of the DBE’s decision, the Information Regulator sought to clarify how POPIA impacts the publishing of matric results.

The Information Regulator is empowered to monitor and enforce compliance by public and private bodies with the provisions of South Africa’s data privacy law, POPIA.

Speaking on SABC’s SAfm, Information Regulator chairperson advocate Pansy Tlakula said the DBE has a legitimate reason for publishing matric results through various media platforms in order to make those results accessible.

However, if it decides to do that, it must ensure it complies with POPIA. The media platforms must also ensure they comply with the Act, she explained.

“This requires training in advance; it’s not something that they can do two weeks before publishing those results. For instance, the planning will require them to decide which personal information they share with the media – is it necessary to share ID numbers of learners with the media that, in my view, constitutes over-processing of personal information.

“If they want to disseminate the results through media platforms, they must inform all the learners and all the parents of their intention to make matric results available in various media platforms. They must inform them on which media platforms those results will be made available and how the results can be accessed.

“In addition, the department must give the learners and the parents the right to object to the publication of their results in the media and the objections should be considered before publishing the results.”

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